‘No support for Curlew Court’
A concerned Knysna resident has taken it upon himself to assist residents of the municipal housing facility Curlew Court and Hof with issues they have with the Knysna municipality, the latest being a family of three struggling for more than a month to get a leaking geyser fixed.
Arthur Booysen, who has lived in Knysna for 14 years, says his experience with the municipality leaves him with the impression that instructions aren’t followed up when a task is given, meaning that work done by the municipality never gets executed properly or checked.
He says his friends living at Curlew Court have had a problem with a burst geyser since July 26, leaving them without hot water and having to cope with the leaking.
The Slabbert family, Stella, Sophie and Patricia – who are all unable to work due to arthritis and who rely on government grants to support themselves – reported the incident to the municipality, according to Booysen. It was after two days, when “nothing was done”, that he got involved.
This geyser has not been fixed yet, Booysen says, despite numerous calls and visits to various municipal officials, adding that he and the Slabberts have been sent from one department to the next, to no avail.
During a meeting that Knysna-Plett Herald (KPH) attended at the municipality on 29 August, planning and development director Mawethu Penxa undertook to resolve the problem, but this has not happened.
Booysen says he also spoke to Ward 9 councillor Mark Willemse this week, on Monday 11 September, and was told that Willemse would look into the matter and get back to him. By the end of Tuesday, he says, no feedback had been forthcoming. Stella says all they want is for their geyser to be fixed. She, her daughter Sophie and granddaughter Patricia have now been struggling for seven weeks without a geyser. When it first broke they had to quickly grab buckets to catch up the water, and although the geyser is switched off, she says, it still leaks.
“The whole damn building has leakages which never get fixed. The municipality keeps asking us to save water but how are we supposed to do that when we rely on them for maintenance?” the frustrated 77-year-old wants to know.
Sophie says that after visits by a municipal official, Aubtey Oelf, and two separate contractors, the situation remains unchanged. “They keep promising us it will get fixed but nothing happens. When we need to bathe we have to boil water in the kettle and use buckets. It is very difficult for us.”
Booysen says he feels the municipality should apologise to this family for this inconvenience.
Considering the volume of letters and complaints shared with KPH over many years by Curlew residents, there appears to be an ongoing issue with the municipality.
One resident, Valerie Bouwer, has even vowed to report the municipality to the Western Cape Housing Tribunal.
Summed up, these complaints include the following issues:
No security: the fencing around the housing units allow anyone to walk through their property “day and night”. Residents claim they feel no sense of safety.
No communication: residents have said there is no line of communication between them and management/the municipality. They feel their issues fall on deaf ears and that the municipality feels nothing for them. Example: Recently residents told KPH that a group of contractors was brought to the site for what seemed to be a contractors’ meeting. Residents were not informed of this, they say, and they still don’t know what it was about.
No maintenance: residents says housing units need fixing and when they report problems there is no response from the municipality.
Irregularities: some also allege that there are tenants who don’t qualify for this subsidised housing facility.
In response to some of these queries, municipal manager Kam Chetty said residents must communicate their issues with their ward councillor who will in turn escalate them to the director of planning or the manager of human settlements. “All maintenance issues reported to our Hornlee office have been attended to and fixed,” he stated.
Regarding “unqualified tenants”, Chetty said the integrated human settlements department would investigate the allegations, and added that in future, prospective tenants for subsidised housing would have to fulfil certain criteria and be registered on the housing waiting list. “Going forward, the council allocation policy and one allocation database will be used,” said Chetty.
Back left is Arthur Booysen with Sophie Slabbert. In front is Patricia (left) and her grandmother Stella Slabbert. Booysen is trying to help the Slabberts sort out their issues with the municipality. Meanwhile they have to make do with buckets of boiling water.
Stella Slabbert points to where her geyser is still leaking, even though it is not in use and switched off.
This bucket has been placed under the geyser to catch wastage.